Immunity for Soldiers — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 7:03 pm on 20th May 2019.

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Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland) 7:03 pm, 20th May 2019

Fabrication of evidence is not a legal requirement of the British Parliament. We have not at any stage stated in part 3, paragraph (27)(b) of schedule 2, “thou shalt go forth and fabricate evidence”. There are more than enough cases in which people have fallen way short of the high standards of the legal profession so gloriously and elegantly exemplified by the hon. Gentleman.

I have heard many speeches by Mr Duncan Smith, and have never regretted a second that I spent listening to them, because he speaks with profound good sense. Today he gave us the slightly unusual perspective of the man in the caravan in the masonic hall car park. Again, he made the point about the impact of tension on young people. Often in groups of young people in such a situation, one person tends to lead, and if there is one person in a platoon with a contemptuous and contemptible attitude towards the people they are supposed to be protecting, that will often ratchet up. A person will say things that are unforgivable, and other people in the platoon, in the file, or on the mess deck, will be uncomfortable about challenging it. That happens with human behaviour. It is human. It is important to realise it.

We cannot mention too often the name of the late Captain Robert Nairac. We are at the anniversary of his disappearance and death. What a tragic waste of a life it was. It was one of 3,500, by all means, but he was a man who gave his all—everything—for his country, and I do not think that we can forget him.

I found it extraordinarily moving when Richard Drax talked about arriving, as a newly commissioned officer, in civvies on a civilian transport into Northern Ireland, and finding he was in a country—a place—he did not recognise. Is that not part of the problem? On our relationship with “John Bull’s Other Island”, we often do not understand Ireland or the Irish. It would have been even more honest of the hon. Gentleman to say that he had, perhaps, some preconceptions about Ireland, but he had the courage to say that when he arrived there, he did not realise the full nature of the place he was coming to. I think that that shock was dramatic, and what he said was much to his credit.